The Mad Hatters, Again !
Under the leadership of Billy Hamilton (aka Hulen) (whose playing career ended with an eye injury) Medicine Hat won the Western Canada title for the second straight year topping the circuit with 67 wins, edging Winnipeg Maroons for the championship.
No official individual records were compiled for the 1909 season. However, from box scores and newspaper reports, we've managed to put together the statistics, both hitting and pitching for the 1909 campaign.
Outfielder Lester "Tug" Wilson (right) of Medicine Hat beat out fellow Mad Hatter Lloyd Zimmerman to capture the 1909 batting crown in the Western Canada Baseball League. Wilson compiled a .365 mark in 88 games while Zimmerman finished at .348. Wally Smith of Calgary was third, at .330. Smith, the Broncho third baseman topped the circuit in triples, with 17, and tied Luke Collins of Regina for the lead in home runs, with 5. Si Bennett of Medicine Hat scored the most runs, 87, and led in two-base hits, with 24. Harold O'Hayer of Moose Jaw Robin Hoods stole 53 bases to top the circuit.
Paddy Welsh, who split his mound work between Medicine Hat and Moose Jaw, was the top winner and league workhorse. He finished with 23 wins in 35 games. He led the league in complete games, 30, innings pitched, 275, and strikeouts, 150. John Collins of the Winnipeg Maroons had the top winning percentage, .875, based on his 14-2 won-lost record.
Pitchers Cy Pieh and Pete Standridge (left) were among the 1909 players who advanced to the major leagues. Wally Smith, Calgary third baseman, was the lone position player to do so.
Pitcher Clarence Currie (right) of Moose Jaw Robin Hoods had played in the big leagues in 1902 and 1903 with three teams - Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati and St. Louis Cardinals. He won 15 games, losing 23 but finishing with a career 3.39 earned run average in 53 games.
Western Justice ?
Lloyd Zimmerman (below, left) was an outfielder for the 1909 and 1910 Medicine Hat Mad Hatters.Many years later he'd rate a mention in a book by Pulitzer Prize winner author J. Anthony Lukas. Big Trouble followed the 1907 trial of Big Bill Hayward a union leader accused of themurder of a former Governor of Idaho. Hayward was defended by acclaimed defense attorney Clarence Darrow.
The trial was held in Caldwell, Idaho, the site of one of the clubs in the Southern Idaho League, an independent circuit. Walter Johnson happened to be a pitcher for another of the teams in the league and Zimmerman and Thomas Grayson were the top players on a third team. In midseason Zimmerman and Grayson were arrested and charged with statutory rape of 15-year-old girls. It seems the pair were so valuable to their team that they had the charges dismissed after they married the girls.
The league continued to be big news, even in the off-season. The following item appeared on the front page of the Medicine Hat News on October 28th, 1909.
FOR NEXT SEASON
WESTERN CANADA LEAGUE MAGNATES
DECIDE TO CONTINUE GAME
Same Cities Will Be on Circuit Next
Year -- Mr. C.J. Eckstorm, of
Lethbridge, Elected President --
Salary Limit Was Raised
The annual meeting of the Western Canada League was held in the city on Monday and proved a strenuous affair as far as business was concerned. It was thought by the delegates that a couple of hours would finish up the routine but eventually it took a twelve-hour session to do it. The work involved closing up everything in the books for the present season as well as making preparations for next year and the first part of the program was the portion which consumed by far the greater length of time, the equalization of the railway mileage calling for several hours hard work. Once last year's business was out of the way it was straight sailing and the League was organized for 1910 on exactly the same lines as the present season.
President James Fleming, of Medicine Hat, presided, with the following delegates in attendance : John R. Lamb, of Winnipeg; A. Acaster, Regina; Ralph Manley, Moose Jaw; C.S. Pingle, Medicine Hat; Benton Hatch, Lethbridge; R. Richardson, Calgary; John Dewar, Edmonton. Brandon was the only city unrepresented.
President Fleming, after expressing his pleasure at seeing so many delegates in attendance, spoke enthusiastically of the success which the Western Canada League had attained, when consideration was given to the fact that the cities concurred were very late in the season in making up their minds to inaugurate a league. It constituted a record in baseball, he thought, where a bunch of men could get together and in a couple of months dish up the class of baseball which was given to the public by May 12th. The matter of the selecting of umpires was a burning question during the early part of the season, but after the executive met in July it was realized that it was impossible to get good men for the price set by the league and when it was decided to give more money, it was too late in the season to improve matters. Now that the representatives had a full understanding of the importance of this question, there was ample time to safeguard the league in this respect next year.
The report of the secretary, John R. Lamb, was then received, showing the standing of the clubs to have been as follows at the close of the season : Medicine Hat, Winnipeg, Calgary, Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, Regina, Brandon and Edmonton. The percentage could not be given until the official scores have been turned in by the scorers.
The question of the equalization of at the games, was announced as follows : Winnipeg, 53,812, Brandon 23,428, Regina 21, 204, Moose Jaw 19, 568, Medicine Hat 11,696, Lethbridge 13,192, Calgary 25, 379, Edmonton 18,808. There were many more games in some cities than others and the following averages give an idea of the comparative general attendance : Winnipeg 829, Regina 495, Moose Jaw 445, Brandon 434, Calgary 397, Lethbridge 360, Edmonton 336, Medicine Hat 255.
The amount paid by the home teams to visiting teams was as appended :
Moose Jaw ...............2717.60
Medicine Hat ............1980.70
The claims of the clubs against one another occupied considerable time in settlement, but the adjustments made were all amicably received and the cheques made out and paid over for the balance due each out of the guarantee fund put up at the first of the season.
When the matter of continuing the league next year came up there was not a dissentient voice. All wanted to see the league go on composed as at present. Various schedules were suggested, however, whereby the mileage might be decreased and expenses thereby lowered. The matter of the schedule and of certain proposed changes in the constitution will be considered at the spring meeting.
When the election of officers was taken up President Fleming announced his retirement, which was received with regret, Mr. Hatch suitably voiced the sentiment of the meeting, in a few words whereby he expressed the appreciation of the league of what Mr. Fleming had done in promoting baseball in Western Canada.
Mr. Fleming stated that he wished to devote more time next year to the interests of the Medicine Hat club, which would be impossible if he did not retire from the presidency of the League.